Think of messaging and we unknowingly think of WhatsApp. No doubt, WhatsApp is literally the most important part of our digital life. Last year, WhatsApp was under severe criticism over privacy issues and users feared that a third party could also read their messages. This brought the waves of suspicions, rumour and privacy. Did you know that WhatsApp offers various ways in which we can ensure our privacy? Let’s delve into a few very important Security Features available on WhatsApp and how to protect your Account in case of any mishap.
1. Avoid tapping on unverified links sent by someone unknown:
Technology has opened an arena to a vast amount of information that can be accessed anywhere, anytime. But it is also used for scams such as phishing. Clicking on any unverified link may bring a virus to your phone, steal away your personal data, photos, etc. But the question arises- How to know if a particular link is trustworthy or not? Notice the first few letters of the link- if they resemble a famous company and have the correct spelling, then it might be a genuine link. Else, ask the sender if he has explored the link himself or not. Click on the link only after cross-checking from every aspect.
2. Report and Block unknown senders and spurious messages:
Apart from the basic feature of blocking someone on WhatsApp, there is also a cool feature of ‘Report messages’ with which you can report any spam or spurious message which you think is deceptive in nature.
To block or report someone, click on the sender’s contact, and click on the three dots (⫶) at the top-right corner of the screen. Click on ‘More’ and then select either- Block (if you want to block that person from your contact list) or Report (if you want to report their last 5 messages).
Alternatively, you can long press on any message sent by an individual. When the message you wish to report is selected, click on 3 dots (⫶) and tap Report. This will report that particular message to WhatsApp so that they can take necessary action.
3. Add a 2-step verification:
WhatsApp has a very important security feature named ‘Two-step Verification’. This feature ensures that when you lose your phone or SIM card, the finder won’t be able to use your WhatsApp without this verification code.
To turn on the feature, open WhatsApp > Click on the 3 dots (⫶) at the top-right corner > Tap on Settings > Click on Account > Two-step verification.
Remember: Keep a code you can remember always (or better write it somewhere) because there is no option to recover the code once forgotten.
4. Keep your WhatsApp up-to-date:
Keeping older versions of apps invite viruses. App developers regularly bring updates to thwart new viruses from attacking your mobile phones. Go to the Play Store or App Store and update WhatsApp to protect your smartphone.
5. Hide your Status from not-so-good friends and relatives:
We save contacts of too many friends, relatives, etc. but we may not want them to see our WhatsApp statuses. WhatsApp has this amazing feature of hiding status from any of your contacts whom you don’t want to show your WhatsApp status.
Open WhatsApp > Click on STATUS > 3 dots at the top-right corner (⫶) > Status Privacy. Now, you can select the option which best suits you!
6. Archive your messages:
Sometimes, you need to send screenshots of your WhatsApp but you don’t want the receiver to see certain messages. Or, you are added to a group you don’t want to be in but can’t leave either as it would show you are arrogant. In such a case, you have the option of archiving those contacts and groups.
Long press the contact or group you wish to archive > click on Archive (it comes with a folder-shaped icon placed to the left of 3 dots
Also, you need to turn on one more feature in settings. Click on 3 dots (⫶) > Settings > Chats > Turn on Keep Chats Archived (in case, it is off). This will ensure you will stay in the group but will be unbothered if new messages arrive.
7. Backup your chats:
We all would agree on this, that WhatsApp chats are very important for us. Losing messages sent and received on WhatsApp is like losing important deadlines, assignments, evidence and a lot more. But did you ever come to know that in WhatsApp you can actually back up all your chats? Yes, the Chat Backup feature is available on WhatsApp which allows you to upload all your chats securely to your Google Drive.
To use the feature, click on 3 dots > Settings > Chats > Chat backup > BACK UP. You can also select the Google account you want to upload your chats to, the frequency of backups, etc.
8. Prevent someone from adding you to a group without your permission:
Being added to a random group you didn’t wish to be is very frustrating. But you can now enable a feature that will disallow everyone from adding you to a group without your permission.
Click on the 3 dots (⫶) at the top-right corner > Settings > Account > Privacy > Groups. Here, you can choose who can add you to groups. If you want only your contacts to add you to groups except for one or two mischiefs, select ‘My contact except..’ You can select names of those individuals and WhatsApp will then protect you from being added to random groups by them. If they want to add you to a group, you will instead receive an invite link which you can use to join the group at your own will.
9. Track people with whom you share Live Location:
WhatsApp allows us to share our live locations with anyone so it becomes easy to track and meet someone. But, you also need to turn off the shared location or else that person will always be able to track you.
To view individuals with whom you have shared your location, go to settings > Account > Privacy > Live location. If you are currently sharing your location with anyone, you will find them here. To stop sharing your Live Location, just tap on STOP SHARING.
10. Add Fingerprint Lock:
What is more frightening than your parents seeing your private chats? Fret not, follow this feature to rescue yourself. WhatsApp now allows you to add a fingerprint lock to the app. This is super security and no one will be able to open your WhatsApp even if they know your phone’s screen lock.
Click on the 3 dots (⫶) at the top-right corner > Settings > Account > Privacy > Fingerprint lock. Turn on ‘Unlock with fingerprint’. You can also choose the interval or duration when you want WhatsApp to automatically lock itself.
11. Don’t Link your Bank A/c with WhatsApp Pay:
WhatsApp introduced a new payments feature a few months back but, as experts say, try using the feature with caution. WhatsApp’s parent company, Meta (formerly Facebook) is known for data controversies and privacy concerns. Even in 2022, nothing has changed. So, it would be advisable to not use the Payments via WhatsApp feature unless very urgent. Instead, use other payment apps like GPay, Paytm, PhonePe or BHIM UPI.
12. Avoid Joining Beta programs run by WhatsApp and Meta:
WhatsApp has recently started testing a lot of new features for the app, many of which are available for Beta users. On the one hand, being a beta user gives the advantage of using new features and benefits but, on the other hand, it comes with lots of bugs. Moreover, according to Policies and Terms & Conditions, WhatsApp is not liable for any malfunction of the app while you are a beta user. So, if you ever see a notification baiting you to join the Beta program to use rare features, think twice before clicking on the button.
13. Stop Sharing unverified information or sending inappropriate messages
With the freedom to send any message which even WhatsApp can’t read, there is one loophole that altogether thwarts this end-to-end encryption. If someone reports your messages, WhatsApp receives the messages you sent to him/her. If WhatsApp considers the message as inappropriate & receives multiple reports from different users, it can block your account. Moreover, recently, most of the governments around the world have started considering sharing rumours as a serious offence which may lead to severe penalties. So, better not to share any unverified information or send inappropriate messages to anyone.
14. Always check linked device status
Sometime you login to WhatsApp web on your laptop or desktop and you forget to logout in that case you should always check wheather your whatsapp account is logged off from the linked device or not.
If you allow this, you are destined to face serious troubles at some time or the other. Anyone would read your message and send any message to anyone, to which, practically, you won’t be able to do anything.
To avoid this to happen, follow the given steps: Click on the 3 dots (⫶) at the top-right corner > Linked device > Click on the device that is connected and click logout. You can also see last active status of that linked device.
15. Check your WhatsApp Chat Backup settings
With the new year, new scams enter the market. This is true for all sectors and all apps. Whenever you see WhatsApp backup notification on your phone you should check the email address of that account, you should always confirm wheather it’s your google drive account or your account is hacked and your chat backup is going somewhere else.
So, these were some tips and tricks you can follow to enhance the privacy and security level of your WhatsApp Account. If you are still facing any issues, ask us in the comments below.
And, If you think there is some other prohibitive measure one should follow on WhatsApp, let us know in the comments section below.